THE New People's Army (NPA) released on Sunday a video of the five policemen they have been holding captive since April 16.
NPA’s Regional Operations Command in Southern Mindanao Region (ROC-SMR) spokesperson Rigoberto F. Sanchez, in a statement emailed to news organizations, said the five prisoners of war (POWs) are now under the custody of the First Pulang Bagani Battalion.
In the attached transcript and video message, the POWs appealed for the cessation of the military operations and suspension of the police operations in Paquibato District, the latest of which was the April 18th bombing, airstrike, and ground operations in the area that nearly hurt and killed them.
The five policemen also called for the next elected president, for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the GPH to speed up their early release.
Held captives were identified as Chief Inspector Leonardo V. Tarungoy, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Rosenie L. Cabuenas, PO3 Rudolf Y. Pacete, PO2 Neil C. Arellano and PO3 Abdul Azis A. Ali Jr. They were roaming at Purok 5 in Barangay Mapula in Paquibato District when the rebels blocked and abducted them.
"The aggressive stance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) particularly the Army’s 84th Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division and Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the US-Aquino regime in addressing the capture is posing grave and major risks in the lives of the five POWs," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said the arrest and capture of the five prisoners by the NPA members is “a legitimate act of war, and in fact, a humane act when compared to the extreme torture or summary killings by AFP troops upon capturing red fighters or brutal incarceration under trumped-up charges of political prisoners.”
The NPA also said there is no truth to the claim of PNP spokesperson Wilben Mayor that the POWs are being kept in “makeshift animal cages,” imputing that they are non-combatants who are victims of a criminal act of abduction.
Sanchez said the NPA abides with war protocols even in the face of the relentless military pursuit while the conditions of war necessitate that the NPA custodial force secure and neutralize the capability of POWs to inflict harm to revolutionary forces.